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Talk to me about GCSE controlled assessments

(24 Posts)
TeenAndTween Wed 18-Sep-13 09:46:04

My DD has just started y10. Apparently she is having one of her English controlled assessments in the first half of October (on a set book).

As I understand it, they are being taught about the topic of the essay, and then in the assessment they go in and write it up under controlled conditions?

She doesn't find structuring essays easy, and she struggles to write good notes in class as she can't work out the key points to note down.

So, what can/should we be doing to support her at home with this assessment? Which brand of study guides are considered to be the 'best', or do I need to see which seem to cover the assessment topic? Do they get to take any notes or the actual set book in with them?

(Teacher already thinks I'm a pain as DD1 had her last year and I asked about lack of apparent progress, so I'm reluctant to ask ...)

Ilovegeorgeclooney Wed 18-Sep-13 13:06:06

I would get a copy of the text studied and read and discuss it with her. Find out what the question is going to be. The teacher sets this from guideline topics set by the exam board. She will be able to take a clean copy into the CA so helping her know how to find key sections that work with the question will really help. She will also be able to take in a note sheet but this must not be an essay plan and she will prepare this in class. Don't worry about approaching the teacher after all your daughter's progress is key. If she is studying English Language this is worth 15%

tywysogesgymraeg Wed 18-Sep-13 13:10:28

In my experience, they will get several attempts at the controlled assessment before they reach the final version which is the one that's marked. Each time they do a draft they then get feedback from the teacher on how to improve the essay, and then re-submit for more feedback.

TeenAndTween Wed 18-Sep-13 13:36:00

Thanks. She has implied to me they will not be doing drafts first, (though I am not sure whether to believe her)

Having talked to her a bit about the book and topic for assessment, she seems to understand it well. However organising her thoughts coherantly in the assessment may be another thing. I was rather hoping they wouldn't start so soon with the assessments.

Can anyone tell me more about the notes sheet. Is there a limit to number of words or what?

How can they differentiate between a notes sheet an an essay plan? Surely you can order your notes in the order you want to write about them?

(I have no desire to write the essay for her, I am sure she knows more about the book than I do, but I do want her to be able to show what she knows).

poppydoppy Wed 18-Sep-13 13:46:19

You could write it for her and have her learn it off by heart.....thats how ridiculous controlled assessments are.

TeenAndTween Wed 18-Sep-13 13:53:11

Ah poppy. I really don't want to do that. (Though she probably could learn off by heart). It seems wrong on so many levels.

But, I would like her to tell me what she thinks, and help her structure her thoughts. But if she does that without the notes she makes at school, then she'll miss stuff out, so I worry I may do more harm than good. And if she then also fails to take in useful notes....

louisea Wed 18-Sep-13 14:25:22

Has your DD been given the question yet? Just asked DS and he already has the question though we don't yet have a date. Once they have the question you can sit with her and work on it.

secretscwirrels Wed 18-Sep-13 15:48:00

Each time they do a draft they then get feedback from the teacher on how to improve the essay, and then re-submit for more feedback
Teachers are most definitely not supposed to do this.

DS1 is in year 10 and just preparing for his first CA this week. I have an older DS so have seen this all before. They are truly relentless and they end up doing many, many more exam hours that they would for a terminal exam.

DS knows the topic and the approximate number of words required. They are allowed to take a sheet with a few "key words" into the CA with them. They can't write sentences or an essay plan. It's all done under exam conditions, certainly not at home.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Wed 18-Sep-13 18:55:54

Schools that allow drafts are actually cheating and it is completely against the rules. Makes me mad! You can only have one attempt at a question in CA and the vast majority of schools are honorable and abide by this rule.
The note sheet contains key ideas/quotes/references but has to be prepared in class and submitted with the work if moderated. Your best way to help her is to make her confident about the text. Which one is she studying?

canitgetanyworse Wed 18-Sep-13 20:07:45

My son did terrible on CA's in year 11. Everything was kept within school even the planning, so poor plan = poor write up and as the school plays by the rules your only get one chance to write up and no help on the plan.

It makes me so cross reading student room how so many A' kids say they got such high marks because they were given so much help, rewrites and I even read a teacher saying they added in the odd correction on the final piece.

Controlled assessments should be got rid of.

friday16 Wed 18-Sep-13 20:13:30

"It makes me so cross reading student room how so many A' kids say they got such high marks because they were given so much help, rewrites and I even read a teacher saying they added in the odd correction on the final piece."

It was hilarious when in the aftermath of the 2012 English debacle teachers were protesting that it was a shocking assault on their professional standards to even suggest that this sort of thing was going on.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Wed 18-Sep-13 20:13:46

No cheating schools should be identified. What worries me is they have no shame, pupils openly say how their school flout the rules yet there are no repercussions. Total lack of professionalism and teaching young people that cheating is fine, that 'the end justifies the means'. I value my integrity but I am so mad that less integrity=better results.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Wed 18-Sep-13 20:14:59

BTW my school had brilliant results so you don't have to cheat it is just lazy.

cricketballs Wed 18-Sep-13 21:48:56

The fact that some subjects in some schools do not conform the the rules of CA is one area which infuriates me! Within my own school there are differences between keeping to the rules to the point where my students have actually said "we can keep re-doing it in science but you won't let us do that will you Miss"

TheFallenMadonna Wed 18-Sep-13 21:55:06

Eh? Science is super controlled. Or should be. AQA is two write on exam papers and a graph drawn in high control conditions. We report any infringements to the exam board. You can do three and submit the best mark - is that what they mean?

IHeartKingThistle Wed 18-Sep-13 22:01:23

Friday, why is that hilarious? Is it that hard to believe that even if some schools cheat, lots don't? FFS.

OP, when I was teaching the controlled assessments they were only allowed a page of notes and the notes were only allowed to be page references and keywords, no planning or analysis notes at all. Schools differ though.

friday16 Wed 18-Sep-13 22:14:03

Is it that hard to believe that even if some schools cheat, lots don't?

It's very easy to believe that. It's just a shame your unions don't, and claim that there is no cheating happening anywhere.

See here

sassytheFIRST Wed 18-Sep-13 22:19:15

Leaving teacher-marked writes and re-writes alone, there is nothing to stop your daughter doing practise essays at home with your help, then learning them by rote to regurgitate in class. Or, more practically for most, learning paragraph headings, which quotations to use and roughly what to say in each parag. Not cheating, this.

IHeartKingThistle Wed 18-Sep-13 22:30:18

Yeah, OK grin

greyvix Wed 18-Sep-13 22:32:27

Students are allowed to write a basic plan, including key phrases and quotation. This is not cheating. The teacher should help guide students towards answering the question, and there is no reason why a parent shouldn't also help.
You will find BBC GCSE Bitesize very clear, along with Sparknotes, which covers more texts. Also, if she is unclear, she should ask for guidance; most teachers are happy to help. Good luck to your DD.

Wolfiefan Wed 18-Sep-13 22:36:35

Which exam board? You should be able to check mark schemes so you know what they are looking for.
Notes may be a plan. No full sentences or paragraphs.
No redrafting.

greyvix Wed 18-Sep-13 22:41:04

I agree with Wolfiefan. No full sentences or redrafting.

Ilovegeorgeclooney Thu 19-Sep-13 08:08:41

We have been told that if the notes constitute a plan the moderator mey legitimately deduct marks (AQA English). They may contain ideas/concepts/short quotes/page references etc but not a plan.

TeenAndTween Thu 19-Sep-13 09:12:03

Thank you to all who have replied.

So I think I need to discuss with her at home, and get her to make a plan at home, so at least she has planned it first even if she can't take it in. That way she will have thought in advance about her key points and structure. Then I need to hope that whatever notes she makes in class help her.

Crazy system.

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